The Saturday before Easter is that time during holy week where we often find ourselves in a sort of hopeful expectation. With Good Friday behind us we are left with the weekend to reflect upon the sacrifice of Christ. I was doing just that as I was making chapatis for lunch and bread for the next day. There are a myriad of blessings to having many years behind you where you are aware of the Easter story but at times the rhythm of the season makes my heart less aware of the sacrificial love given to us by Christ. As I was kneading dough I was crying out to God to give me a greater depth of understanding of His sacrifice. The depth of His love.
We had our teammates over for lunch. It was the middle of a very hot day (around 108 F) and so we moved the chairs under a the closest tree to take advantage of the shade. After we finished eating we were enjoying munching on Karkaday (a tea leaf) for dessert when suddenly Josh (who is four) started screaming. We realized, in horror, that the he had been playing right under the beehive one tree over (right next to our home) and had aggravated the bees. I must stop here to explain that bees here are aggressive. If you get stung by one the whole hive comes out in force to protect. We all scattered. Josh’s parents, Eli and Bethany, were frantically trying to outrun the bees and dislodge them from under Josh’s shirt. We scooped up our four and headed inside (along with about five angry bees. J– swiftly isolated the bees to one room and eliminated them while we stayed in another. As we were hovering inside wondering what to do next and watching angry bees swirl around J– decided to venture outside when a firm voice said, “they are still angry wait inside” It was Andrew one of our Sudanese neighbors. As we watched he pulled up a chair and sat under the hive. He allowed the bees to sting him on his head to get out their anger while we watched safe inside.
As we watched I was literally overcome with his sacrifice. He sat there willingly being stung so we could be safe inside. He took the consequence of the bees anger so we didn’t have to (though we deserved it for provoking them). He had done nothing wrong but he sat there calmly as they stung him so we would not be harmed (although the validity of this South Sudanese belief we may question it doesn’t take away from the gift of his action). As I contemplated Andrew’s sacrifice I was overcome by how much greater a sacrifice has been given to us through Christ. He willingly gave of Himself so we would not face the consequence of our actions. He willingly sat under the bee hive so we wouldn’t have to. But he gave up more then enduring some stings, He gave His life, willingly, for us.
Josh had seven bee stings, and his parents had a few as well, but he is a brave four year old. Our whole family is “bee sting free” from the incident, and Andrew walked away with stings on his head assuring us he would return that night to take care of the problem. That evening most of the men gathered and they proceeded to get rid of the hive. Andrew came to rinse off the stingers on His arms when he was done on our back porch.
How “sweet” it is to be living in community where sacrificial love is shown, where we can look outside our window and say, I know God better because of him.
We pray this Easter finds you reflecting on the greatest sacrifice of all, and rejoicing that He is risen and has sacrificed for His glory and our joy.